"You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find...You get what you need. Oh yeah." -- The Rolling Stones
I've been known to actually utter these words to my kids on numerous occasions -- minus the "oh yeah," depending on my mood. Sometimes I throw it in for effect.
Kids today just don't know how good they've got it. Yeah, I know: Our parents said that about us. Although it was completely true, since in my case anyway, they grew up during the depression and the stories I heard involved having nothing to play with but two 2x4s nailed together, attached to four roller skates. Or the cardboard that covered holes in their shoes, shielding cherubic feet from the elements. Though I don't mean to diminish tough circumstances or the memories that accompany them, I couldn't exactly relate.
I don't think my kids can relate to mine either, and so it goes.
But when wails of complaint bellow from the back seat of the family car on the way to the grocery store because the iPad that wasn't even a glimmer in anyone's eye back in the '70s has run out of cell data, I'm reminded of a simpler time when I listened to FM radio.
Recently, while playing XBox with my boys, as they pined for the next, much more amazingly life-enhancing Xbox inception, I thought "Do you kids realize that all we had was Pong?"
"I can't get no satisfaction. I try and I try and I try and I try. But I can't get no. No, no, no. Hey, hey...HEY! That's what I say." -- The Rolling Stones
And when they expound upon the culinary advancement that is the double down, I attempt to put things into perspective with:
"Ain't that America? Home of the free." -- John Mellencamp
Dripping in not so much mayonnaise as sarcasm.
"This dinner looks like dog crap!" My son will exclaim at the dinner table. I simply look at him and demurely say:
"Don't do me like that." -- Tom Petty
And when they come home upset about their day, wanting to throw in the chips?
"Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow. Don't stop. It'll soon be here. It'll be better than before. Yesterday's gone. Yesterday's gone." -- Fleetwood Mac
When a best friend suddenly turns on them and the girl my son has been crushing on goes to the dance with his buddy, or someone gave one of my boys a hard time at school, I turn to them and offer that,
"Everybody hurts...sometimes..." -- REM
When they just want to hole up in their bedrooms and play video games despite all the amazing things this world has to offer, I remind them that no, they don't have to live like a refugee.
Of course there are lessons to be learned from rock music. As a songwriter, I know this and I try to use it to everyone's advantage. After all, the songwriters I'm referencing all went through their own stuff and toiled to put it all to paper in a concise and relatively snappy, relatable fashion that the masses could utilize as a buffer from life's disappointments and cruelties. They're like modern day parables, little nuggets of truth and candor rolled up into tasty bite size offerings of wisdom that you can also dance to.
I'm simply pointing this out to my offspring in case they don't pick up on these allegories screaming from the kitchen speakers. My Rolling Stones is not my mother's Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. And 10,000 Maniacs certainly wasn't my answer to her 10,000 Strings. Though maybe I was able to glean some romantic wisdom from "There I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like I love you".
As a modern parent, I try to be on top of the messages in today's music. So far, at the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy with respect to their P. Diddy, I can't find a whole lot of positive, sage advice out there.
The times, they are a changin'.
It seems like most messages sent by artists catering to today's younger demographic get their point across through media antics rather than lyrical content. But maybe that's just age and cynicism talking.
Every time that I look in the mirror... all these lines in my face get me clearer. The past is gone... " -- Aerosmith
But then, the '80s didn't exactly wax philosophical with ditties like "Everybody have fun tonight...everybody wang chung tonight... " Let's be honest.
Then again, if on a particularly trying day, in the absence of one of my own brilliant musings, I can turn to one of my kids and say something like...
"Oh...woah, woah, sweet child of mine...every day is a winding road and although the first cut is the deepest, you just gotta soak up the sun and realize that baby, you were born to run. You've got a hubcap, diamond star halo, you're dirty, sweet and you're my kid. Whatever is troubling you my son, let it be" -- Everybody
...that's a real plus.
Sometimes I'll even throw in a few from the current stockpile of lyrical nuggets. Still, the tried and true are lyrics that are just as much ours as theirs; maybe even more.
"Don't wanna be an American idiot...don't want a nation under the new media...information age of hysteria...it's calling out to idiot America." -- Green Day
You know, just to keep things real.
Oh... time may change me... but I can't change time.